inhale-confidence-exhale-doubtI want to FEEL empowerment. I want to feel empowered in situations where I am wrought with fear and anxiety. I want to be proactive about this instead of reactive. Looking at pictures from the last year in my life, there are many moments where I had to face a fear and did so with the grace of God. These are pivotal moments. A good way to capitalize on them in an effort toward empowerment and happiness is to create a vision book of images from your life and personal experience that make you feel empowered or reflect happiness. Using pictures from your own life instead of cutouts from a magazine is very powerful because it is not showing who or how you want to be; but instead who you are and what you have accomplished already.

I worked with offenders at federal probation in the past where we used tenets of neurolinguistic programming (NLP) to help them battle addiction. We asked the offenders to identify core memories for different feelings and then utilized classical conditioning to empower them to access those feelings when necessary. They chose memories of their own to evoke the positive feelings because there is a much more powerful capacity to FEEL what we have actually experienced in our life versus feelings we want that we see in others.

I have a HUGE fear of public speaking, but I have had to do it several times in the last year. The first time I did was the epitome of fear. I did not think I would survive. I thought I would have a stroke, pass out, or fall off the stage. I gave the speech anyway. Not only did I survive, but it went really well considering my level of terror. It was a miracle. My vision book has a picture of me giving that speech because that will be the most important thing I can recall next time I am in a similar situation. It is much more effective than an image of a speaker I admire because that picture is actually me, not just surviving, but thriving. When I am about to give a speech again and my mind thinks I cannot do this, that picture counters the thought directly because I did do it. Case closed.

Include pictures from your life (at any age or time) which reflect your happiness. These need not be pictures of you, but also include parts of your life which are integral to your happiness. I have a picture of my kids riding bikes. Their accomplishment is a huge reflection of happiness and empowerment in my life. Several pictures are of my kids because their happiness is not only something that evokes my happiness, but makes me feel like I am doing something right as a mother. There is no manual for motherhood and very little affirmation. Using a vision book to self-validate that we are doing well is helpful for the times we might be feeling or fearing the opposite.

Consider a photobook you can create online or you can make your own. Caption quotes that inspire you, dates and details you want to remember, or notes about your goals or anything that will help you as you move forward. By having a vision book instead of a vision board, you can take it with you anywhere. My current vision board is hanging up in my bathroom, which is great for seeing it everyday as I get ready, but it does nothing to empower me when I am out and about and life hits the fan (as it often does). By creating a book, you can keep it with you in your car, at work, at home, or even make a habit of flipping through it every morning when you wake up. This book will not collect dust. It will help you leave fear in the dust. It is not for others. It is a tool for you. For me. For strength.

With personal empowerment,

Nikola Rosa